About Us


ORIGINS

Between 1983 and 1987, Michael Poynor was the first Artistic Director of the Ulster Youth Theatre Company, set up by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to offer pinnacle training via an annual province-wide selection process to talented young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty two.  Developing a policy of musical theatre productions based on the central philosophy that the three major skills of acting, singing, and movement/dancing would serve to provide a good grounding for future development.  Productions of Godspell, Grease, The War of The Worlds, Oh, What a Lovely War, West Side Story and The Boyfriend helped to launch an astonishing number of young people into careers in the Performing Arts.  They include:

James Nesbitt, Conleth Hill, Sean Kearns, Julie Rodgers, Michele Fairley, Zara Turner, Catherine White, Briana Corrigan, Zoe Seaton, Marty Maguire, Niall Cranney, Robert Taylor, Donna Bainbridge, Valerie Bainbridge, Deborah Clarke, David Seaton, Michael Magee, Mark Nolan, Gerard O'Hare, Kate Batts, Grant Corr, Brendan Flemming, James Dundas, Shauna O'Doherty, Richard Orr, Niall Rea, Patrick Rocks, Helen Trew, Patricia Wilkinson, Angela McCloskey, Kieran McIlroy, Paddy McCoey, Paula McFettridge, Graeme Shaw, Eileen McCluskey, Lata Sharma, Ann Cunningham, Josephine Mulvenna, Heather McIlwaine, Maurice Jay, Lloyd Hutchinson, Simon Stewart, Shelagh O'Kane, Christina Nelson, Cathy Boyd, Angela Harding, Barry Woods, Judith West, Mary McNally, Stuart Marshall, Anthony Toner and Conor Mitchell.

In 1988 Michael Poynor was invited to lead the National Youth Theatre of Wales to repeat the formula.

In 1993 Michael was asked to direct and design a production of West Side Story, with a cast of young people (16 to 26), in the old Klondyke gasworks for Opera Northern Ireland ... to be accompanied by the full Ulster Orchestra.  It was a huge production, which gave birth to a new crop of would be young performers ...

So ... Ulster Theatre Company was founded to continue the tradition of Training Musicals and launched its first production in 1994.

Godspell opened at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on the 31st August, 1994 ... the same day that the IRA announced its 'ceasefire'.

An independent theatre company operating without any core funding, UTC has, nonetheless, produced the largest scale productions in Northern Ireland and toured them throughout the UK and Ireland.

With support from the Foundation of Sport and the Arts, The Carnegie UK Trust, The William Adlington Cadbury Trust, The Department of Education, Belfast City Council and The Prince's Trust with its initial production of Godspell, UTC expanded rapidly as a mid scale company with a turnover of nearly £400,000 and audience totals of 68,000 in the first eighteen months of operations.

In 2010, UTC directly employed well over thirty actors, creatives, technicals and support staff to present pantomimes in four theatres in Ireland, setting several new records including being the first company to present two pantomimes concurrently in the Dublin area.


Musical Theatre Training

Between 1994 and 2000 UTC ran an annual Music Theatre Training Course, which achieved an astonishing level of success with dozens of participants entering the profession and several currently enjoying leading roles on the West End theatre stage.


Drama

UTC produces drama from time to time, when finances allow.  Productions have included the Northern Ireland premiere of Robin Glendinning's Summerhouse and Murder in The Cathedral (St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast), both for the Belfast Festival at Queen's; a new translation of Comedy of Errors; Half Hanged McNaghten for the Strabane Hiring Fair Festival; and a new adaptation of Bram Stoker'sDracula.


Pantomime

Since 1994 UTC has produced a series of original annual pantomimes, which have been seen at many theatres including the Spires Centre (Belfast), Waterfront Hall (Belfast), Market Place Theatre (Armagh), An Grianan Theatre (Letterkenny), Civic Theatre (Tallaght) and Pavilion Theatre (Dun Laoghaire), and set new box office records.


Special Events

UTC has produced, conceived and delivered a range of outdoor site specific events.


Training Courses and Workshops

UTC has designed and delivered training courses for community theatre groups, amateur theatre companies, professional actors, colleges and schools. 

UTC was the first theatre company in Northern Ireland to design and deliver a Community Theatre Training Course with Open College accreditation.


Record of main Productions and Projects:

 

YEAR PRODUCTION/EVENT/PROJECT WHERE
1994 Godspell Ulster Hall, Belfast
  Cinderella Spires Centre, Belfast
1995 Eurovision Regional Project Navan Fort, Armagh
  The Hiring Fair I Strabane
  Grease Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Cork Opera House
  Summerhouse (Robin Glendinning) Belfast Festival at Queens (Arts Theatre)
  Jack and the Beanstalk Spires Centre, Belfast
1996 Oklahoma   Grand Opera House, Belfast
Cork Opera House
New Town Hall Theatre, Galway
  Sleeping Beauty Spires Centre, Belfast
1997 Community Theatre Training Course TWN – Magherafelt  (3 years)
  The Hiring Fair II Strabane
  Half Hanged McNaghten (Prem) Strabane – Canal Basin
  A Chorus Line Grand Opera House, Belfast
Rialto Centre, Derry
Cork Opera  House
  Scrooge’s Christmas (Prem) Waterfront Hall (Studio), Belfast
1998 Rockin’ Mikado (Prem)   Waterfront Hall, Belfast
His Majesty’s theatre, Aberdeen
Palace Theatre, Manchester
  Murder in The Cathedral Belfast Festival at Queens (St Anne’s Cathedral)
  Oliver Twist (The Panto) (Prem) Waterfront Hall (Studio), Belfast
1999 West Side Story   Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Bristol Hippodrome Theatre
Grand Opera House, York
  Once Upon A Time (Prem) Waterfront Hall (Studio), Belfast
2000 The Wizard of Oz (RSC version)   Rialto Centre, Derry
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Apollo Theatre, Oxford
Grand Opera House, York
  The Awakening of the Fairies (Prem) Gilford Castle, Gilford
2001 Cinderella Millennium Forum, Derry
2005 Cinderella Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2006 Jack and the Beanstalk Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2007 Sleeping Beauty Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2008 Aladdin Market Place Theatre, Armagh
  Sleeping Beauty An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny
Civic Theatre, Tallaght
2009 Scrooge’s Christmas Market Place theatre, Armagh
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
2010 Cinderella Market Place Theatre, Armagh
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
  Scrooge’s Christmas An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny
Civic Theatre, Tallaght
2011 Jack and the Beanstalk Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2012 Sleeping Beauty Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2013 Comedy of Errors The Musical Theatre at The Mill, Belfast
2013 Aladdin Market Place Theatre, Armagh
2014 Jonathan Harker and Dracula Theatre at The Milll and tour
2014 Scrooge's Christmas Market Place Theatre, Armagh